February 13, 2008, 12:00 AM

Online shoppers increase by 40% worldwide in two years, Nielsen says

875 million consumers worldwide have shopped on the web, up 40% from 627 million two years ago, according to the Nielsen Global Online Survey. 85% of Internet users have shopped online. 60% of web shoppers pay with credit cards, and a quarter use PayPal.

875 million consumers worldwide have made purchases on the web, up 40% from 627 million two years ago, according to the Nielsen Global Online Survey. 85% of Internet users have made at least one online purchase.

“The Internet is no longer a niche technology-it is mass media and an utterly integrated part of modern life,” says Jonathan Carson, president, international, of Nielsen Online. “As our lives become more fractured and cluttered, it isn’t surprising that consumers turn to the unrivalled convenience of the Internet when it comes to researching and buying products.”

While 94% of U.S. Internet users have made an online purchase, that puts this country only eighth in the world in adopting web shopping. South Korea tops the list, with 99% of Internet users making a purchase online, followed by the U.K., Germany and Japan, all at 97%.

Books are the most popular item purchased online, with 41% of Internet users having made such a purchase in the past three months. Consumers in China, Brazil, Vietnam and Egypt are among the most avid of online book buyers, suggesting the potential for online retailers in such emerging economies, Carson says. 36% of Internet users worldwide report having bought items in the clothing, accessories and shoes category in the past three months, up from 20% in the survey two years ago, making it the fastest-growing product category. 24% said they have recently bought videos, DVDs or games, 24% airline tickets and 23% electronic equipment.

Credit cards are the most common way to pay on the Internet, used by 60% of online consumers for their recent purchases. 53% of online credit card users pay with Visa. Web payment method PayPal was used by one in four online consumers, Nielsen says. Debit cards are most popular in the U.K., where they are used by 59% of online shoppers, and in the U.S. (40%).

Nielsen polled 26,312 Internet users in 48 markets In October and November.

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